Cathy Reilly

Cathy Reilly is the founder and president of Onboardia, an award-winning web-based new hire orientation and employee training platform that provides organizations with a customized, efficient solution for onboarding and engaging new hires from Day One and beyond.

Recent Posts


Posted by Cathy Reilly on Oct 10, 2016 9:00:00 AM


Contrary to the popular concept that “big” is better, modern opinion is starting to think “small” is better. Big meant economies of scale. Before the microchip transformed small into powerful, it took a lot of people to scale a business. Big organizations added value with efficient manufacturing, market expansion, and geographic distribution. A big sales force or a large R&D team were valuable assets.  But going big also meant a loss of speed and agility.

This is the first of a three-part series on Agile HR, a current hot concept and one I'd like to see stick around. Agile HR consists of various principles to help HR drive companies further than the conventional model of HR as guardians of guidelines and protocols. The agile model stretches HR to help a company become more quickly responsive and innovative through simplifying processes that get right to the heart of a matter.

 I’ll be looking at a sampling (three) of the concepts in Agile HR, which are centered around the core idea of shrinking things in order to react faster and more powerfully.

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Topics: Human Resources


Posted by Cathy Reilly on Sep 26, 2016 9:00:00 AM


For decades the time-honored, ratings-based annual performance review has been the standard for evaluating employee performance. Managers and employees set up goals to be met for the year, then twelve months later, discuss whether or not those goals have been met, what improvements could be made and a rating is affixed which ties to compensation and possibly a promotion or bonus.

But, one big problem with this system is that it’s the same system used as far back as the industrial age. Back then a good job was defined as one that met spec, was on time and on budget. The value of personal performance and development were lacking. This is a system focused more on performance than the person. It’s not aligned with the ways we work today, nor with what motivates the modern employee or drives innovation. The big question is “Why do we continue to use the same outdated system?”

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Topics: Employee Performance


Posted by Cathy Reilly on Sep 8, 2016 12:00:00 PM

BLOG_POST_IMAGE.jpgIf you’re not a fan of HGTV’s show ‘Fixer Upper’ set in Waco, Texas, most likely it means that you just haven’t watched it yet. Once you do, you’ll easily see why it’s one of, if not . . . the most popular show on HGTV and continues to break viewership records.

The show’s stars, Chip and Joanna Gaines work with a different client couple in each weekly episode to not only find them a great fixer upper home, but to then transform it into one of the best on the block inside and out. Their joy and talent in what they do is not only obvious, it’s infectious. And, their work product is outstanding. From an HR perspective, the couple has gotten a lot exactly right about how they perform their jobs that can be applied all day long in human resources.

Here are 5 reasons why:

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Topics: Management


Posted by Cathy Reilly on Aug 24, 2016 12:00:00 PM

8.24.16_blog_boy_w.mask_for_boost_employee_willpower_325x216_iStock_84649983_SMALL_1.jpg“Where there’s a will there’s a way.”

We love our “can-do” slogans. While they may provide that spark of positivity that helps us keep going, how far will they really take us on their own?

Here’s the reality.

Willpower tires easily, like a muscle. You usually can’t change your behavior simply by resolving to do something. If that were true New Year’s resolutions would actually work.

It’s not that can-do thinking is bad. It just that it can only take you to the point where you “can’t do”. Then help is needed. As a manager or HR professional dealing with the people side of organizations, you need to understand how to give this kind of help to employees.

Tasked with daily responsibilities and deadlines, employees are often asked to do more, and to do so with less. Sometimes it’s best NOT to ask more from your employees, but to focus instead on making it easier for them to do their work.

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Topics: Management

Great Coaches Know How to Do This One Essential Thing

Posted by Cathy Reilly on Aug 10, 2016 8:00:00 AM


Jonas Salk said, “What people think of as the moment of discovery is really the discovery of the question.” In other words, “Good questions lead to better answers.”

Ask, don’t tell. 

A great coach builds a habit of asking questions. They also think less of what a habit can do for them, and more about how the new habit will help the people they care about. 

In the workplace, managers and leaders knowingly or not, are coaching. They love to give advice. That’s how they’re programmed. Managers have spent years delivering advice and getting promoted and praised for it. They believe it’s their job to tell employees what to do, even compliant ones. This generally doesn’t work for the simple reason people don’t like being told what to do. It neither inspires nor engages. 

Managers need to change their coaching habit from telling to asking. 

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Topics: Management


Posted by Cathy Reilly on Jul 27, 2016 1:40:56 PM

Winston Churchill said, “We shape our buildings and thereafter they shape us.” 

The same applies to habits. Form a habit, and it begins to form you, for better or for worse.

Habits are where our lives and careers and bodies are made. If you want to change, change your habits.

What is a habit? It’s doing one thing consistently and repeatedly until it changes your behavior. Crash diets don’t work because they don’t change habits. No, the way to get in shape is to go to the gym every single day. Do that for a month and you will start doing something that might begin to change your life. “Exercise spills over,” said James Prochaska, a University of Rhode Island researcher. “There’s something about it that makes other habits easier.” One shift in a daily habit might mean a reinvention of how you see yourself. 

What’s true for people is true for organizations. You build a good organization with good habits. If an organization wants to change its employee’s habits, it must first change its own.

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Topics: Management

How Do You Know you’re Positively Impressing your New Hires?

Posted by Cathy Reilly on Jul 13, 2016 2:10:14 PM

iStock_first_impression_w.hands_clapping_325x325.jpgOur last blog post looked at the importance of first impressions. A series of favorable first impressions creates staying power and paves the way to loyalty. Remember that intuitions come first, strategic reasoning second. If they like it (intuition) they will find reasons to stay. This is why creating the right kind of first impressions for your new hires is so important and why you want to ensure you are doing so.  You want to give your newbies every reason to brag instead of complain about the company. 

Examining things like what the boss’s behavior looks like, the culture of the company, the path for employee development and how employees are shown appreciation are all key impression makers. What are your communications and processes saying to new hires in these areas and will it help them become productive and feel highly valued?

The best way to find out is to ask them. Post-hire surveys should be a standard part of your onboarding process. Check in with new hires early on following their orientation, and at proper intervals during their first year. Make sure you are getting their feedback and their opinions. By your asking alone, you show them that your company cares about its employees, and just as important, treats them as individuals. Their feedback helps your company learn and take corrective action if needed. Too often new hires, who are becoming dissatisfied early on, start looking to leave. This is extremely costly to a company, and negatively impacts employee morale and the company’s reputation.

If your new hires are asked, “What’s it like to work here?” these may be some of the things you might want them to say.

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Topics: Onboarding


Posted by Cathy Reilly on Jun 29, 2016 12:00:00 AM

6.29.16_iStock_first_impression_w.multiple_hands_325X325.jpg  On a cold March day in 2004, Michael Gill             walked into a Starbucks on the Upper East           Side of Manhattan. Gill was the  son of a New       Yorker staff writer, a Yale graduate, and               former creative director at J Walter Thompson,     but his life had recently unraveled. He was a         divorced, unemployed, 63-year-old father of         five. A young woman in a Starbucks uniform         seated at the next table smiled at him and             asked, “Would you like a job?”

  “She seemed so secure and confident,” Gill         remembers. Without thinking he said, “Yes.”         Several years later Gill wrote his bestselling         memoir, “How Starbucks Saved My Life.”

  Gill made an impulse decision borne out of           desperation, but he would not have stuck it out   to become a “Starbucks Coffee Master” if             Crystal (the young woman who offered him the job) had not made an immediate impression on him. Respect and dignity were a part of the Starbucks creed. Crystal tolerated no cursing or street talk.  “Partners” (what Starbucks calls its workers) were never told to do things; they were asked—politely. “I could be sincere at Starbucks,” Mr. Gill writes, “because I was finally in a work environment that valued those precious moments of truly human interaction.” 

Michael Gills exceptional story underscores a fundamental reality. The first encounter between employer and employee is critical, and first impressions can make all the difference. We respond intuitively and emotionally before we assess rationally. We make our first judgments rapidly, and we are bad at seeking out evidence that might disconfirm those initial judgments. First impressions stick, and it’s hard to get them unstuck.

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Topics: Onboarding

4 Simple Updates You Need To Make To Employee Training

Posted by Cathy Reilly on Jun 1, 2016 10:04:07 AM

PixabayBe honest: when’s the last time you reviewed your employee training program? Is all the material up-to-date and presented via the latest technology? Or are your employees still thumbing through dusty training manuals from the last century?

Every change in your industry, each new technological advance, and every time there’s a change to your company policy, it affects the quality of your training. Unless you’re diligent about reevaluating and adjusting your program and material, it can quickly become outdated or irrelevant to employees. And that holds them back.

To give your employees the training they need and deserve you need to take the time to look at what skills you’re teaching and how. You might be surprised how much of your training program needs to be reworked or completely thrown out.

Here are four ways to review and spruce up your employee training program to make it more effective:

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Topics: Onboarding

All You Need To Know About Onboarding Your Employees Right

Posted by Cathy Reilly on May 18, 2016 8:30:00 AM

The onboarding process is essential to setting new employees up for success. One wrong move can make it harder for a new hire to adjust, or worse, make them want to quit. And that’s why your onboarding process needs to be about more than just filling out HR forms and checklists.

In our new infographic below, you’ll find some easy tips and steps that will help you improve your onboarding. Some highlights about getting employees off on the right foot include:

  • Only 32% of organizations have formal onboarding programs.
  • 31% of employees have quit a job within 6 months of being hired.
  • 75% of employees that were satisfied with their onboarding experience say they’re loyal to their employer.
  • 91% of managers feel their company doesn’t do onboarding well.

Check out the full infographic to find out how you can improve your onboarding program and give new employees the great start they deserve!

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